Governor Markell's Campaign Commitment to Protect Freshwater Wetlands
While running for Governor in 2008, Jack Markell made a bold statement about actions that he would take to protect freshwater wetlands, including "significant investment of time and political capital," the formation of a "Wetlands Protection Work group" that would "have a mandate to develop recommendations within six months that specifically address how best to protect each category of wetlands in our state," and to initiate a dialogue about wetlands.
Yet, Governor Markell has yet to take these steps. Unlike all other surrounding states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and New York, Delaware does not have a "dredge and fill" policy to protect wetlands. Delaware's failure to protect freshwater wetlands from loss seriously compromises the state's water quality, nutrient management and stormwater protection.
Governor Markell's complete statement on his campaign promise to protect freshwater wetlands (published in The News Journal, Feb 17, 2008 pg A. 10 "The candidates for governor give their views..."):
Q: If you support an effort for state regulation of freshwater wetlands, how would you build consensus among the stakeholders, especially the farm and development lobby?
First, building consensus takes commitment and leadership from the top. I will provide that. Protecting freshwater wetlands cannot be an afterthought; it's worth the significant investment of time and political capital it takes to build understanding and consensus.
Second, I would form a Wetlands Protection Work Group that would include members of my administration, academics, nonprofit organizations, developers and scientists. The panel would have a mandate to develop recommendations within six months that specifically address how best to protect each category of wetlands in our state, specifically the Palustrine, Estuarine, Marine, Riverine and Lacustrine. I'd also direct the group to make long-term recommendations on climate change and rising sea levels policy, which may be the greatest threat to our wetlands.
Finally it takes willingness to expend political capital to get all of the stakeholders to the table, and I have that. Once a dialogue is started we need to begin with the things on which everyone agrees. Farmers, builders, environmentalists and every other Delawarean know that we need to preserve our quality of life if Delaware is going to remain a great place to buy a home, run a business, maintain the family farm, or raise a family.